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If you are a complete beginner or wanting to take your piano playing to another level then Playground Session is for you. In this Playground Sessions review I will tell you exactly what you will get and how you will learn.
Let me tell you how and why I decided upon using Playground Sessions.
Why I chose Playgound Sessions
Having recently finished writing a book, self publishing it on Amazon and narrating it on YouTube I had no desire to write anymore. This was not because I hadn’t enjoyed the experience or wasn’t satisfied with my accomplishment but simply because I had done what I had set out to achieve.
I decided to set myself another goal and I decided upon learning to play the piano. I didn’t want to just learn to play songs as I had years earlier when learning to play the guitar. Now I had the desire to learn how to read music, gain some knowledge of music theory and play the piano to a reasonable standard.
I knew this would be a difficult task. Maybe harder now than years ago but I loved the idea and the challenge that I had set myself.
I decided upon buying a reasonably priced keyboard that had weighted keys and bought the Roland FP30. The reason for weighted keys was that I wanted it to feel and play like an acoustic piano.
I then borrowed some music books from a friend whose daughter was taking piano exams and then set out to find a music teacher. This was difficult since the hours I work overlapped with the hours worked by piano teachers.
Fortunately I had the foresight to search the internet and realised that software was now available. I was specific with the piano learning software. I wanted to play to a reasonable standard but also I really wanted to learn about music theory and be able to read music.
So when I landed on the Playground Sessions website and saw that it was possible to learn with Grammy and Emmy winner Harry Connick, Jr. I was intrigued and delighted.
It is also co-created by the music legend Quincy Jones. Yes, the all time most nominated Grammy artist.
Playground Sessions offers many features:
- Songs you know and love.
The piano software teaches you how to play your favorite songs with interactive lessons. Learning to play a familiar tune and knowing the song only helps to speed up the learning experience. Songs can be picked from the categories – Pop, Rock, Classic Hits, R&B, Traditional, and Classical genres that are arranged at Rookie, Intermediate and Advanced level.
- Bootcamp and Courses
David Sides has amazing talent and has over 185 million views on You Tube. He has been invited to play all over the world and is now teaching on Playground Sessions. He appears to be the ordinary man but with his unique arrangements and his fun and engaging teaching style he is ideal teacher to have.
Whilst bootcamp and the supplemental courses offered on Playground are unlocked only as you progress through the bootcamp curriculum I have chosen to concentrate on completing the bootcamp before working through the courses. This is my choice simply to stay focused on one part of Playground Sessions before moving to another. It seems to work for me!
In Playground, you will discover how David breaks down songs and music into short pieces building your knowledge of music theory concepts one step at a time. With the addition of his of interactive videos tutorials and practice sessions featuring your favourite songs it has helped me to find my way around the keyboard. It is teaching me notation and rhythm and I look forward to learning how to play more by ear as I get better.
I love the step by step way that Playground Sessions uses to teach, and starting as an almost complete beginner I have progressed faster than I expected. I look forward to the advanced level and the knowledge and ability I will gain moving steadily forwards.
- Play with Progress Visualizations
An easy-to-read chart shows you how much time you have spent, how you are progressing, the level you have reached and where you are improving over time.
- Interactive feedback
If the right note is played at the right time, it turns green; play it wrong, it turns red; play it with the wrong rhythm, it turns pink.
If you need to focus on a particular part then you simply select which part of the section you need to practice and then you can loop it over and over until you get it right.
Play the piece of music to the end and you receive a score. Aiming for 100% before moving forwards has helped me be ready for the next step. This feature of being given a playing score also helps to improve motivation. This works a bit like a game with yourself and others. If you choose, you are able to broadcast your scores.
What you need
- A Windows PC/laptop or an Apple computer/laptop or an IPad..
- A digital piano or a portable keyboard or a midi controller.
- The correct connection to hook up your computer, laptop or Ipad to your piano. An A-to-B USB cable or a MIDI-to-USB cable.
- An internet connection.
Reasons for Playground
- The music chosen by Playground is familiar. Many genres of music from classical to popular are chosen. You will know the rhythm required to play them and they will then be easier to play.
- You are able to go to the song store and find a song at the correct level for you to play. For the monthly subscription fee 5 songs may be chosen at no extra charge. These may all be printed or learned from the app.
- In the Playground Progress tab of from the main Playground Sessions dashboard you can see a line graph showing the progress you are making against time spent learning and also the level you have reached. This Progress tab also includes badges awarded for the time spent practicing, stars for songs that have been learnt and badges for accuracy.
- Backing tracks accompany the music that you are playing. This makes it easier to learn your part since the rhythm is set and gives tremendous satisfaction when completed successfully.
- The software that is used keeps playing in time to perfection. This can be a little frustrating but with practice better rhythm is achieved which is worth striving for.
- The scores given at the end of play make the learning process seem like a game and this keeps you motivated to improve.
Reasons Against Playground Sessions
- Whilst there are lessons with David Sides and Harry Connick, Jr these a few and far between. That doesn’t concern me but if you are familiar in having an in-person piano teacher this is understandable. I should also state that there are no in-person lessons with Quincy Jones which is a little disappointing but he is not a young man.
- Playground may not be the perfect course for very young children. They may need more personal tuition.
- It takes time in bootcamp to reach a theory lesson and some may feel that even then the theory learnt in bootcamp is not adequate. I look forward to learning more theory in the courses when I have completed bootcamp.
- Playground is limited to working completely with a digital piano or keyboard or midi controllers and cannot work properly with an acoustic piano.
- The software teaches you to play in perfect time. It is sometimes almost too accurate and this can lead to playing without any emotion.
- At present the bootcamp lessons cannot be printed.
As the name suggests Playground Sessions is meant to be fun. That said, you can learn a huge amount from subscribing to this Application.
Being fourty nine rather than four or even fourteen I know that I want to learn and don’t need anyone to tell me. In fact this is a benefit for me. I want to learn at my own speed. If that means playing every day or on a day off from work that is my choice and for this reason I love the app.
I may not learn all that I would learn from a piano teacher but I am learning what I want to learn now. If I choose to learn more in the future I know that I will have learnt the fundamentals of music and have a reasonable playing ability before making that choice.
I am enjoying playing and learning with Playground Session and this is critical.